Collaboration with Wavedash Games

I’m excited to anounce that I’ll be sound designing Wavedash Games’ new eSports platform fighter game, “Icons: Combat Arena!”

 

Image may contain: 1 person
Source: wavedash.com

It’s refreshing to return back to the eSports genre after previously working at Electronic Arts’ Dawngate. I love when the players have that passionate, competitive spirit. I feed off of that energy and it helps motivate me to strive to be better at what I do and it’s also nice to know that you have an audience that cares.

How I Landed This Gig

It’s an interesting story how I landed this gig. I was recently contacted by a talent agency that mainly had art and engineering talent but was looking to incorporate some audio people onto their roster. They told me they had a gig that was looking for someone like me and if it was okay to pass my portfolio onto their client. I said sure, that’s fine. A couple of days later,  they told me that their client, Wavedash, liked my work and wanted to work with me. However, the agency needed some time to get their agreements in order and in the end, after waiting a while, they requested I work with Wavedash without them in the picture since time was of essence and they didn’t want us to keep waiting on them for the contracts. I was also told that Kris Orpilla, a good friend of mine, who was the VFX artist for Dawngate, was also working on the game! I was really happy to hear about that because we had a great collaboration together on Dawngate and knowing the people who you’re going to be working with makes all the difference, especially as VFX and audio tend to go hand-in-hand.


Audio Actually Matters!

Another reason why I’m excited about this project is because the players actually care enough that they would complain about the audio. Matt, the CEO of Wavedash had told me that the players made comments about the stock sound effects in their initial trailer and that really motivated them to search for a sound designer for their game.  In a world where audio people often go unnoticed and underappreciated, this was something very encouraging to hear. As an audio professional, we often try to convince people about the importance of having good audio in whatever project is at hand but people often don’t realize the actual importance of it until it’s done poorly. It’s kind of like this picture of toilet paper – you don’t know what you have until it’s gone 😉

Image result for you don't appreciate what you have till it's gone
Source: thethingswesay.com

I think Wavedash is lucky to have a playerbase that wants them to bring the game to higher and higher levels and I’m excited to help them out with their sound design. It’s also nice to work on a live game where players can give you immediate feedback on your work and keep you accountable to make sure that the comabt sounds you make are satisfying and have enough oomf to them!

The Power of Sound
For combat games especially, sound design is very important. I remember when I was working on Dawngate and we would playtest some of the box characters without any of
the sound to them. Even with the VFX in, the abilities just don’t feel powerful.

Image result for why does my SMASH character feel so weak?
Source: Desperately Unrehearsed

After adding in the sound design, people’s perception of the strength of their characters immediately changed, thinking that their abilities were much stronger than they were before, even though all of the balancing and numbers were the same. There is something about the sound that emits from a character’s ability and the immediate feedback that it provides that helps create this perception. I often find myself playing games better when I turn on the sound compared to turning it off. Being able to know what your character is doing and what kind of damage they’re taking based on the feedback of sounds within a couple of milliseconds can often determine your success or failure in a game.

 

In summary, I’m excited to be working on Icons: Combat Arena and doing my best to help make the gameplay an even more satisfying experience than it already is for the players! 🙂

 

Advertisements

Sacred Spaces Project – A Tale of Two Cities

Source: citiesandmemory.com

 
A little while ago, I was part of a cool project called Sacred Spaces, headed by Cities and Memory. Field recordings were contributed from various churches, temples, and other sacred places from all around the world. After gathering together all of the field recordings, they had different sound designers “re-imagine” the field recordings and put their own creative spin to it. For mine, I chose a recording of a church in Greece.

The original recording can be heard here. While listening to this, I happened to be looking at some pictures of Syria online. There was a picture of what Syria looked like before and after all the wars and turmoil occurring in the area.

Syria: then and now
Source: imgur.com

It definitely struck a chord with me, seeing the amount of devastation that the city had undergone and how time can just completely transform a city. This inspired me and I wanted to capture the dual, contrasting nature a city can have through my sacred spaces track.

This was what I ended up with for my final arrangement.  To check out other songs from the Sacred Spaces album, click here.

 

Thought Process

The first half of this track represents the dark and tumultuous effects of war on a country. This was done through taking the original recording, starting with the section with the bells clanging. I reversed the audio of that whole section until the end. If you listen to the recording at 0:12, that is the sound of the clanging bells reversed with an added delay. Then I composed an unsettling music ambience that creates a sense of uneasiness with its unstable meters and eerie sounding textures. The percussive nature of the piece starts off with some organic sounding hand drums that grow into loud booming drums that further develop into exploding distorted electric booms panning back and forth, representative of flying explosions and the destruction that occurs in wars. The piece then unravels a little bit and you get from 1:20- 1:48 little after shocks of the war that haunt you (bringing back the short snips of reversed materials).

The second half of the piece until the end is reminiscent of the land before being ruined and a sort of emerging from the ashes toward a more hopeful future. I took the original recording, cleaned it up and enhanced it and played it forward (instead of backward/reversed like in the first section) to show that this is how things should be. The city sounds healthy with its natural bustling energy and there is music I composed below it that represents a sense of serenity and hope. It is indeed like its title,  “A Tale of Two Cities.”